Tag Archives: Virgo

Corvus (The raven)

CorvusCorvus is a southern constellation that was cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy that remains among the 88 modern constellations. It’s four brightest stars form a distinct quadrilateral asterism that lies beneath Virgo’s back, adjacent to Crater, and above Hydra near its tail. This constellation reaches its highest nightfall ascension in May. Because of its deep southern declination, it sets shortly after setting, and it never rises very far above the horizon.

NGC40384039_largeThere are no Messier objects in Corvus, but there is a very interesting pair of NGC galaxies, the Antennae peculiar galaxy (NGC 4038 and 4039).  These two objects are undergoing a galactic collision which is stretching them out into unusual antenna-like shapes. “Peculiar” is a term given to any galaxy that does not have the usual spiral or elliptical shape.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corvus_(constellation)

IAU Corvus chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnertt and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.
IAU Corvus chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net

Hydra (The water snake)

Hydra, SextansHydra is the largest of the 88 modern constellations, and was one of the 48 constellations cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. Hydra’s head lies at a point about halfway between Procyon in Canis Minor and Regulus in Leo. From there, it snakes (pun intended) south and eastward below Leo and Virgo, sharing two stars with Crater along the way, before ending just below the right scale of Libra. Hydra’s head reaches its highest nightfall ascension in March, but the tail does not reach that point until three months later in June. The best over all view of Hydra is in late April. Hydra is home to three Messier objects: M83 (the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy), M68 (a globular star cluster), and M48 (an open star cluster).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydra_(constellation)

IAU Hydra chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.
IAU Hydra chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net

Crater (The cup)

CraterCrater is Latin for cup, and this constellation represents the cup of Apollo in Greek mythology. This is one of the 48 constellations identified by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. It is located below Leo’s feet, and behind Virgo’s back in the southern sky, sharing two stars with the constellation Hydra. This constellation reaches its highest nightfall ascension in April. Aside from a handful of NGC objects that are a challenge for amateur astronomers, there is not much to see in this constellation.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crater_(constellation)

IAU Crater chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.
IAU Crater chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net

Coma Berenices (Berenice’s hair)

Coma BerenicesComa Berenices represents the hair of Berenice II, queen of Eqypt and wife of 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. Surprisingly, this constellation is not one of the 48 that 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy cataloged. As a naked eye object, this constellation is not much to behold. Its three main stars are rather dim, and the form of the constellation is rather nondescript. It can be found nestled among the intersection of Leo, Virgo, and Bootes, and it reaches its highest nightfall ascension in May.

With binocular or telescopic aid, Coma Berenices is a wonder to behold. Most notable is the large Coma Berenices Open Cluster Coma_Berenices_photograph(Melotte 111). This star cluster is comprised of about fifty stars that are spread over a five-degree (the width of ten full moons) area of the sky. To look at Coma Berenices with binoculars is to see this cluster. This constellation is also home to the northern portion of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster where several Messier galaxies can be found, to include M85, M88, M91, M98, M99, and M100. There are two other named galaxies in Coma Berenices, the Black Eye galaxy (M64) and the Needle galaxy (NGC 4565).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coma_Berenices

IAU Coma Berenices chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.
IAU Coma Berenices chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net

Ophiuchus (serpent bearer)

Constellation OphiuchusOphiuchus is located south of Hercules on the celestial equator. It is flanked by Virgo and Aquila and reaches its highest nightfall ascension in July. This is one of the largest constellations in the sky, but it will require a little work to locate its stars, because they are rather dim and widely scattered. Ophiuchus is home to several Messier Objects: M9, M10, M12, M14, M19, and M62. It is also home to Barnard’s Star (see Finding Barnard’s Star), a very close and very interesting stellar neighbor.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophiuchus

IAU Ophiuchus chart, Sky  Telescope magazine Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.
IAU Ophiuchus chart, Sky Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net

Libra (The scales)

Constellation LibraLibra, the scales, is a small zodiacal constellation of  rather dim stars that was cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. It is located on the ecliptic between Virgo and Scorpius, and is to the south of Ophiuchus. This southern constellation, which never rises very far above the horizon, reaches its highest nightfall ascension in June. Its brightest star, Zubenelgenubi, is just brighter then 3rd magnitude, which can be a challenge to see in some light-polluted urban skies.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libra_(constellation)

IAU Libra chart, Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.
IAU Libra chart, Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net

Virgo (The virgin)

Constellation VirgoVirgo, the virgin, is one of the zodiacal constellations,  is one of the 48 constellations cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and is the 2nd largest constellation in the sky. It can be found at is highest point in the sky at nightfall in March. Virgo is located on the ecliptic, flanked by Leo and Libra. It can also be found by following the arc of the Big Dipper’s handle through Arcturus in Bootes to Spica (Alpha Virginis), Virgo’s brightest star. Some of Virgo’s remaining stars can be difficult to see in light-polluted urban skies because this is not a particularly bright constellation. Within Virgo is one of the two points where the ecliptic intersects the celestial equator.  The moment of the Sun’s southward crossing of the celestial equator as it moves along the ecliptic is the Autumnal Equinox, which marks the first day of Fall.

The Virgo Cluster is a very large scale object spanning about eight degrees and containing 1,300 or more individual galaxies. The cluster is centered in Virgo, and extends northward into Coma Berenices. The member galaxies that were cataloged by Charles Messier are M49, M58, M59, M60, M61, M84, M86, M87, M89, and M90. Many other galaxies in this cluster have NGC designations. The Sombrero Galaxy, M104, is a very unusual galaxy in Virgo that is not a member of the Virgo Cluster.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgo_(constellation)

IAU Virgo chart, Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.
IAU Virgo chart, Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.

Leo (The lion)

Constellation LeoLeo, the lion, is a distinctive zodiacal constellation that was cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. It is located on the ecliptic between Cancer and Virgo, and can be found below the bowl of the Big Dipper with both constellations arriving at their highest nightfall ascension in April.  Leo closely resembles a crouching lion with its rather distinct backward question mark, or sickle asterism. This constellation features the bright star Regulus (Alpha Leonis) at the back of the lion’s head.

The most famous deep sky object in Leo is The Leo Triplet is a close grouping of the galaxies M65, M66 (displayed) and NGC3628 that can be seen together in a single telescopic field of view. For those observing with telescopes, there are several other galaxies cataloged by Charles Messier are located in Leo, to include M65, M66, M95, M96 and M105. Leo is also home to the famous Leonids meteor shower that occurs during November, peaking at about 10 meteors per hour on November 14th and 15th.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_(constellation)

IAU Leo chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg, June 5, 2011.
IAU Leo chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net